What happens when a report is made?
When you report suspected child abuse to Child Safety Services or the Queensland Police Service, your details are kept confidential and your identity is strictly protected.
When contact is made, the attending officer will gather information, and decide how best to respond. The initial information an officer will require is:
- the name, age and address of the child or young person
- the reasons you suspect the child or young person may have experienced or is at risk of experiencing harm
- the immediate risk to the child or young person
- contact details. You may remain anonymous, however it is preferable to provide these details so that the officer can call you if further information is needed.
It is vital that you call, even if you do not have all the details.
When a report is made, child safety officers will determine how best to respond to the situation.
Investigating and assessing concerns
If the information available suggests that a child is at risk of significant harm, officers will assess the concerns by interviewing the child and family and, if necessary, make contact with significant others such as the child's school, doctor or relatives.
- A police officer may be involved in the investigation, particularly if the concerns relate to physical harm or sexual abuse.
- Following a full assessment, a decision will be made about whether it is possible to address the child's protective needs by supporting and assisting the family.
- In many cases, children are able to remain at home and be protected within their own family, with the Department of Child Safety and other community agencies working with the child's family to ensure the child is safe and their needs are being met.
If an investigation is not required, the child safety officer may provide advice on counselling services or other important information.
When a child or young person needs to be removed from their family, the department is committed to ensuring a focus on the child or young person's best interest is maintained. Most importantly, the child has a right to be placed in a caring environment that meets his or her needs.
- A child might be placed away from home for a short time while further assessments are undertaken, or for a long period if it is decided they cannot safely live with their family.
- A child or young person who is living away from home is said to be 'in care'. Children and young people in care are often placed with extended family or family friends, with other families (foster carers), or in group homes supervised by paid workers.
- If a child or young person is living away from their family, a child safety officer will organise a placement meeting with the carer to provide important information about the child such as their emotional and developmental needs, personal history and special requirements.
The child or young person (depending on their age) is also provided with details about his or her foster carers, family and other relevant information.
Arrangements are also made for contact with the child's parents, siblings, relatives and friends, as well as advice regarding accessing support and advocacy services. This process allows for the smoothest possible transition at a difficult time.
For further information, refer to When child safety officers visit your home.